NASA’s Wi-Fi Plan Tested on the Moon to Bridge Cleveland’s Digital Divide

NASA's Wi-Fi Plan Tested on the Moon to Bridge Cleveland's Digital Divide

A new study from NASA has revealed how a proposed Wi-Fi network on the Moon could affect societies that do not have reliable internet on Earth.

The Compass Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland conducted the study in an effort to address communications problems on Earth as a test case for space. The local neighborhoods were compared to the size of a potential Artemis base camp near the moon’s south pole.

NASA’s plan for Wi-Fi on the Moon could affect Earth’s digital divide.
(NASA)

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Meanwhile, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, an economic development organization, reached out to NASA to find the most effective way to provide Wi-Fi to nearly 31% of Cleveland households without access to broadband.

“We work on a spacecraft all day, and the secondary benefit of that is the development of technologies that go back to Earth,” said Compass Team Principal Steve Ollison. “How do you connect all of these things, you’re not just saying blindly that you’re going to design a wireless system for the moon, you’re saying how they’re going to do it on Earth.”

Steve Olison told Fox News that the Compass Lab at NASA’s Glenn Research Center designs about 15 concepts each year to advance space travel in the United States.
(Stephen Gwen)

The study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light poles or other utility poles would help solve connectivity problems in Cleveland. By placing the routers no more than 100 meters away, a house of four can achieve a download speed of 7.5 megabits per second (Mbps).

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The same pole-based “nested network” approach has also been proposed for the Artemis base camp, which could be established before the end of the decade. Similar mesh networks were previously used on a small scale in homes and communities such as Brooklyn, New York.

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While the moon wifi framework remains conceptual, current applications of the concept are already being explored in communities like the one that inspired it.

“We started a conversation with NASA Glenn and they were intrigued by the idea of ​​exploring this further and using their expertise to solve this societal problem,” said Marty McGann, executive vice president of the Greater Cleveland Partnership for Advocacy and Strategy. “I think it really highlights a potential solution for our community. I think some of them are [NASA’s] The next solutions could be to address the core problems of our society and it is a big problem for us.”

A NASA study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light poles would help solve connectivity problems in Cleveland.

A NASA study found that connecting Wi-Fi routers to nearly 20,000 light poles would help solve connectivity problems in Cleveland.
(Stephen Gwen)

The City of Cleveland recently committed $20 million in US bailout funds to address broadband expansion. Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, also filed a Request for Proposal (RFP) asking companies for affordable Internet access solutions across the county.

“If they can build that network on the Moon, I feel like we should be able to build it here!” said Catherine Tkachik, Cuyahoga County’s Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, “I never thought about how work in space would apply to the work we do here… It’s a very strong foundation for the future of finding solutions,” and that’s what we want.

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